By: Lola Taylor

THE APARTMENT WAS a piece of shit. Anyone could see that.

But to Amy, it felt like seven hundred square feet of awesome.

It was new. Not “new, new.” Nothing in this place screamed “updated!” It was “new” in the sense that she blissfully didn’t recognize a damned thing in here: from the ramshackle, bright-green shag carpet, to the peeling, flowery wallpaper from the seventies. Every leaky faucet, every spiderweb-covered nook—hell, even the old, dusty sofa that the last occupant had neglected to move—was alien to her.

And that was what made it so wonderful. Here, she could truly forget about all the heartaches, lies, and bullshit that had come before now. She was officially rebooting her life, and she was going to enjoy every damned minute of it.

With a lightness in her step that had been absent for years, she grabbed her first box of belongings and hauled it into her new digs.

Yeah, that whole thing about the apartment being cleaned before she moved in totally hadn’t happened. Dust puffed up in the wake of her steps as she set her stuff down on the countertop, which also was covered in a light sheen of the gray fluff. Her sister would die in here. She was, literally, allergic to everything: cats, dogs, people. They’d both inherited some of their aloofness with the real world from their hopelessly starry-eyed, creativity-imbued mother.

Amy wished she could book a one-way ticket to La-La Land. She’d totally live there if she could.

Wishful thinking. She eyed the rectangular room. The kitchen, if you could even call it that, sat off in one corner; a bar overlooked the living room. A dining hovel—she called it a “hovel” because it wasn’t nearly big enough to be considered a room—adjoined the kitchen. The only way it was marked off was by a block of mismatched tiles.


At the opposite end of the living room was a small bathroom—with the emphasis on small—and a bedroom that reminded her of her college cell, er, “dorm.” The weirdest thing about the apartment was that the bedroom had a concrete floor. That’s right—concrete. Like a jail.

And yet, she stupidly grinned from ear to ear.

Who cared if it wasn’t the most glamorous apartment in the city? It was hers, dammit, and she was going to own it. Starting with ripping down this dingy-ass wallpaper and slapping up some bright-yellow paint.

No more reminders of her past. No more wallowing in self-pity, and regret, and “God, why was I so stupid?”

If people could win an Academy Award for being a dumbass, she’d have stolen the vote. Her bestie, Becca, told her, “It’s okay, doll, people make mistakes when they’re in love.”

But love didn’t just make people blind—it made them dumb.

She gritted her teeth as determination lit a fire deep inside her.

She wouldn’t fail at this. She could be on her own and enjoy it again.

Just as much as she had before all that crazy shit happened two years ago. The thought of it made her shiver, made her glance over her shoulder twice.

She was alone. There was something strangely comforting in that.

Her shoulders relaxed. See? Things are already getting back to normal.

She’d dreamed of a life where she wouldn’t be afraid of her own shadow. She’d been there once, long before she’d met Michael, but she couldn’t remember much of her pre-Michael life. Like her art, her life had gone through phases: pre-Michael, Michael, and post-Michael.

Post-Michael had been a bitch for about a year. Then she’d hit her stride and something miraculous had started to happen—she’d begun to grow, slowly stitching her life back together. One morning, she woke up earlier, and didn’t wallow in bed all day. One trip to the grocery store, one smile at a stranger.

The first night she wasn’t afraid to sleep in a dark room alone. Granted, she’d had a nightlight, but still. It was progress.

And the warm glow inside her told her things were only going to get better.

The apartment was a turning point in her life. She could feel the pull of destiny, almost as if it were a tangible force.

Her life was about to change, and it was going to be epic.

It took all afternoon to haul her stuff in, mainly because she was doing it alone. Her sister and mom lived in another state, and Becca was still at the school, sorting out some drama involving her little brother, though Becca was supposed to meet her later to work out.

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